Yanakie is a rural district on the isthmus between South Gippsland and Wilson’s Promontory. Whereas the promontory is dominated by hard igneous rock the isthmus is mostly sandy or peaty soil, originally with extensive wetlands. Before the Yanakie isthmus was formed about 10,000 years ago, mainly by sand-blow, the promontory was an island, part of the chain that includes Flinders Island in Bass Strait.
‘Yanakie’ is thought to be an Aboriginal world denoting walk or come on. It had European contact from a police post to intercept run away Tasmanian convicts (1850) and a pastoral run in 1852. The Yanakie station homestead (1866) is now an archaeological ruin.
From 1909 Yanakie was used for winter cattle agistment, and in 1954 12,000 acres were acquired for soldier settlement farms. Land clearing and drainage works yielded 46 farms across the isthmus, from Corner Inlet (east side) to Shallow Inlet (west side). Farms were occupied in 1958. Next year a progress association and a branch of the Country Womens’ Association were formed, and 15 km of the Corner Inlet foreshore was reserved (1960). A school was opened in 1960 and a hall was built in 1966. By the 1970s the school’s enrolment was about 60. It closed in 1993.
Yanakie is a stopping place for Wilson’s Promontory tourists. It has a general store, a hall, a recreation reserve and a caravan park on Corner Inlet.
A back to Yanakie celebration was held in 2009.
The Yanakie area’s census populations have been:
At the 2011 census, dairy farming accounted for 26.6% of employment and other farming 11.1%.
Anne Fraser and John Noonan, Of Wamman and Yanakie, 1969
Rosemary Crawford, Yanakie: station to settlement 1850-1983, Yanakie, 1984
Wilson’s Promontory entry